I was amazed how well Morgan and Alex were budgeting for the 30 days period, especially taking in consideration the fact that this couple got used to living in NYC. They also were earning a different income in NYC, which was a few times higher than the one they’re supposed to live on for 30 days in the show. Difficult budgeting decisions played a major role in survival for Alex and Morgan. They bought one bus pass and tried to use public transportation whenever possible. The Couple experienced immediate struggles that many minimum wage households face trying to live paycheck to paycheck.
Since most places required proof of employment, Morgan and Alex were forced to look in the shadiest parts of town. Their race and the fact that they had no children was not a factor that could help them in getting hired or finding an apartment. They settled in a poorly heated, ant-infested apartment in a Columbus bad neighborhood called “the Bottoms”. Morgan started by getting a job through an agency at $7/hour and then moved into construction, which paid better; and Alex started by bussing tables and washing dishes downtown.
Morgan gets a ride to a given job with one of the agency workers and talks to him. It is a depressing detail that Gerald is a man who has been living on minimum wage for more than 40 years and he used to make much more money than he does now back when he was a kid. I will not deny that a working class such as working people exists. It is a class of people who gets tired working long hours and does not make necessary income, a class of people who are stuck in minimum wage for their entire life. Working minimum wage is very hard.
I think a lot of people take for granted the things they have; for example, furniture in a rented apartment. Alex wants to get furniture, because they have to eat on the floor and Morgan finds out that a church-run store helps poor people and gives out free items for them. Alex becomes so emotional and begins to cry because she thinks about what these people have done for the poor. They provide such a valuable service, which includes necessary things for an apartment and warm clothes to wear for work.
When one straggles to make ends meet it becomes hard to decide between a visit to the doctor and saving money. If I were in a similar situation I would probably choose to go to the doctor and pay for the visit, especially if children would be involved. Moreover, avoiding a doctor’s appointment can worsen health conditions and increase the cost of necessary medical attention in the future. Since Morgan and Alex were living in one of the shadiest neighborhoods I was not surprised about the electric company deposit request.
It is very likely that previous tenants were not paying for electricity. Finally, I realized that poverty can affect a relationship. Fighting hunger, using an unreliable bus system, living in an unsafe neighborhood, experiencing physical and emotional stress from minimum wage work, making difficult budgeting decisions, dealing with no health insurance, and paying deposits not charged to others are the challenges that caused the conflict between Morgan and Alex.
After watching this episode it is impossible to disagree with Ted Kennedy’s argument and hard not to think that raising the minimum wage is a good idea. Unfortunately, the economic reality is tough and raising the minimum wage does not guarantee that minimum wage employees will make more and also be able to keep their jobs.